Is the coronavirus from God? As part of his judgment? Are famines, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters from God as a form of his judgment?
Whenever something bad happens, the YouTube prophets oftentimes jump on and declare “It’s God’s judgment!” Yet there are many reasons for natural disasters.
- The effects of man’s treatment of the environment
- Agricultural and farming practices
- The effects of the sin
- And yes…sometimes God’s judgment
On occasion, God does bring natural disaster as part of his judgment. It’s not always his judgment, but sometimes it is.
In this particular case, King David was experiencing a famine during his reign. It wasn’t just a fluke one year but actually lasted three years. After three years, David sought the Lord to see if they had somehow transgressed God’s ways.
The Lord told them that this particular famine was a result of a deep violation of a covenant. Israel had made a covenant with the Gibeonites. But for whatever reason Saul had attempted to commit utterly wipe them out. Saul was not successful but he had violated Israel’s covenant with them.
Because of that violation God was bringing judgment upon Israel. And until they repented the troubles for Israel would persist.
So David went to the Gibeonites and asked how the Israelites could make it right with them, and David would do what they asked. The Gibeonites asked for the death of 7 of Saul’s descendants.
David chose 7 of them, sparing Mephibosheth because he himself had a covenant with Jonathon and his descendants. He did choose 5 descendants from Barzillai but this was not the Barzillai that had showed David kindness, but rather Barzillai the Meholathite.
Regardless David handed them over to the Gibeonites who then killed them. And when David finally gave Saul and these that had been killed a proper burial, things were restored.
“After this God answered prayer for the land” (2 Sam 21:14).
It’s important to note too that there are definitive things that can hinder our prayers (Ps 66:18; 1 Pet 3:7). We can’t sin and have the fullness of God too. Sin blocks our relationship with him. If we confess our sin though he is faithful to forgive and cleanse (1 Jn 1:9). But in this case we see clearly how sin was blocking the Israelite’s relationship with the Lord.
Isn’t this something terrible for David/God to do? To kill Saul’s descendants?
First it wasn’t God or David who decided how to restore the relationship, it was the Gibeonites who called for the death of Saul’s descendants. It was a hard reality but it was what they demanded.
Second, God is a covenant keeping God. A covenant is not a contract but an actual covenant for life. God was not unjust and letting his special get buy with a violation of it. He held them perhaps even more accountable than other nations. Israel violated the covenant and there was a price to be paid.
Third we must recognize that this piece of history belongs to a people as a whole, Israel, who were in covenant with God. God interacted differently with them because of this group personal covenant. They had special privileges and special responsibilities as the covenant people of God. The judgment of famine then was in many ways unique, although God does still at times bring natural disasters to the Gentile nations to wake them up as well.